Saturday, March 29, 2014

Signs of spring

We've had a weird spring here in Maryland.  For the past three weeks, temperatures have jumped around from the 20s to the high 60s.  We've had sunny days, windy days, rain, on and off, and snow a couple of times.  The latest snow was this week.  At one point I had icicles handing from the drain pipes and dripping down onto my front steps. Unfortunately, it then got below freezing so I had a coating of ice on the steps.  I don't have a railing out front so going down the steps was a bit iffy.  Luckily I made it without falling.  I then went to get some rock salt, but of course the store was sold out.  Instead I bought kitty litter and some salt that is used in water softeners.  The litter produced a crunchy surface over the ice, so I could safely go up and down.  The salt did help melt the ice, I think.  I've had to use the litter once since then, as we had another warm/cold spell.  Kitty litter is really messy when it is wet!  I sure hope we are done with winter now!

The birds that dine at my feeders seem to have decided it is now spring.  I haven't seen any courting so far, but the males are singing their spring songs.  The male goldfinches are all decked out in their courting colors.  When they share a feeder with the cardinals, it's very colorful.  I even had a pair of redwing blackbirds recently.  They don't nest around here and are seldom seen on my feeders.  They are voracious eaters, but not as bad as starlings.   I've been seeing flocks of robins all winter, so I don't consider them good predicters of spring, but now I'm seeing only one or two at a time.  I guess the migrants have passed through, leaving only the summer residents.  Interestingly, the juncos (a winter only bird) think it's still winter.  They usually fly north as the weather warms up, but they are still hanging around.  Juncos are ground feeders, but at least one of them has learned how to perch on a feeder.  I've never seen that behavior before, but I guess he was desperate, as there was no more food scattered on the deck floor.  I throw birdseed onto the deck only when it is snow-covered.  It's a mess to clean up the shells, not to mention the little white blobs the birds leave behind.

Here are a few signs of spring in my yard.

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